The National Elite Prep Showcase, a premier high school girls soccer tournament, wrapped up Saturday at venues across Tarrant County. The bright sunny skies belied three days of ever-changing schedules due to brutally cold and sometimes snowy weather.
Nolan Catholic coach Jay Fitzgerald, one of the primary organizers of the event, found himself working around the clock trying to get games for teams.
“The ability to put together an event like this for the best teams from all around the country, I don’t think people understand how good it is,” Fitzgerald said. “It’s worth all the pain and calls and emails and texts.”
Some teams got in only two of their four scheduled games. Fitzgerald tried to make sure schools that traveled from as far as California got what they came for. One team in particular, Carondelet (Ca.) Catholic, played two matches in a three-hour window Friday night. They won both.
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“They don’t care,” Fitzgerald said. “They just want to play a fourth game because they paid $10,000 to come here.”
Teams relish the opportunity to take part in the Showcase because of the elite field. But some, such as Grapevine, managed just a pair of matches this year.
Any team that’s invited here and any team playing here needs to know that you’re going to get the challenge of a variety of different playing styles simply because of the diversity of the field.
Grapevine coach Steve McBride
“Any team that’s invited here and any team playing here needs to know that you’re going to get the challenge of a variety of different playing styles simply because of the diversity of the field,” Mustangs coach Steve McBride said. “We didn’t get a complete feel for that this year, so that’s the only disappointment, but there’s not much we can do about it.”
Grapevine won both its matches, defeating Keller Central 2-0 on Thursday and San Antonio Incarnate Word 9-0 on Saturday.
Elsewhere on Saturday, co-host and TopDrawerSoccer.com national No. 2 Southlake Carroll defeated California prep school Harvard-Westlake 2-0.
TopDrawerSoccer national No. 1 Flower Mound Marcus wrapped an undefeated Showcase with a 5-0 victory over Amarillo.
Arlington Martin and Keller both concluded the tournament with draws. Martin and Austin Vandegrift finished scoreless, while Keller and TAPPS power Dallas Ursuline Academy played to a 2-2 tie.
These players were just battling their butts off for their teams and their schools. That’s what’s so cool about it. The quality hasn’t gone down.
Nolan Catholic coach Jay Fitzgerald
All in all, it wasn’t the plan Fitzgerald and NEPS organizers drew up, but he felt the quality of play shone through the weather.
“These players were just battling their butts off for their teams and their schools,” Fitzgerald said. “That’s what’s so cool about it. The quality hasn’t gone down. It could have been 22 degrees but you would never know it. I think that’s what you get when you see this quality of teams and this quality of players.”